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Post Working harder than ever – just like last season

Friday February 13, 2009

If you’ve read one Georgia story this offseason, you’ve read 50 about how different things are in Athens now that the team and coaches have had a while to reflect on the 2008 season. You’ve probably even heard about specific changes like the smaller workout groups with more individual focus. David Hale, as is often the case these days, provides the jumping-off point.

February 2009:

It’s been a common refrain in Georgia’s locker room this offseason, but everyone seems to agree the team is working a lot harder than it did a year ago. Cox said the new focus has been obvious during seven-on-seven drills, when even the young players have stepped up to show their skills.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? We want to hear positive things coming out of these important offseason workouts. But if it all sounds vaguely familiar, it should.

Mark Richt, March 2008:

"I’m really encouraged by everybody’s attitude and effort. I’m getting a lot of good vibrations on our leadership."

Matthew Stafford, March 2008:

"I think the guys have really stepped up, realizing that with the high ranking comes a lot of responsibility to be on meetings on time and try to help the team as much as we can. That’s a good sign instead of guys slacking off and saying ‘We’re No. 2 and we can do what we want.’ It’s not that way at all. The feeling around the team is the reason we got to that point is working hard, so we’ve got to do more of the same."

My plea to the Georgia media: enough. Is there ever an offseason in which the team isn’t working as hard as it ever has? Have we ever had an offseason update that didn’t include some variant of the phrase "stepping up"? It’s not that anyone’s being dishonest. The quotes are accurate of course, and as Hale says the refrain is common enough that we know the message isn’t being distorted. That’s how the team feels right now. A team that is positive and motivated about the challenges ahead sure beats the alternative. It would be interesting – and refreshing – though to see a reporter or two push back on this familiar storyline.

It’s a long way between the optimism of February and the harsh realities of the season. The camaraderie that is so tight and laser-focused now will be tested over the next few months by injuries, disciplinary actions, academic challenges, and ultimately by the games themselves next autumn. It only takes a few months for the tightly-knit team in March to degenerate into a team that was so clearly rudderless after the Kentucky game.

I’m usually a positive, optimistic guy. A Disney Dawg. Locke rather than Hobbes. I want to believe that working harder and better than ever will translate into different and better results this season than it did last season. I’m excited about the season and Joe Cox. This year though I’d much rather see great leadership, fundamentals, and hard work in action six months down the road before we start patting the team on the back for those traits in February.

2 Responses to 'Working harder than ever – just like last season'

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  • Maybe UGA should hire Richt as basketball coach since he soooo inspired the basketball team against FLA. I wonder why he can’t inspire the football team against his top opponents (could it be the coaching) just wondering!!!

  • Pretty sick of people like ceph. I hope you’re not a Georgia fan. If you are, go away.